One in seven have had four Covid jabs

One in seven Hong Kong people had received the fourth booster dose of Covid vaccine, civil service minister Ingrid Yeung Ho Poi-yan said yesterday, while a health expert said remaining pandemic restrictions should be eased gradually, suggesting the mandatory masks should be lifted as early as end March.

Yeung, who posted on Facebook said that the latest figures show that more than a million people in Hong Kong had received four doses of the vaccine.

"To facilitate the return to normality, getting sufficient jabs in a timely manner is a key factor to build a strong immunity barrier against the virus."

She thanked Hong Kong citizens for continuing to fight against the coronavirus by actively getting vaccinated, which not only protects them but also slows down the spread of the virus, which in turn reduces the burden on the health-care system.

Yeung urged children, the elderly and those who received their last dose six months ago to get the appropriate dose of the vaccine as soon as possible to have better protection during the winter influenza season.

Meanwhile, speaking on radio yesterday, respiratory disease specialist Leung Chi-chiu said the abolition of mandatory isolation for Covid patients should "come one step by time" to protect the public health-care system. "It would be contradictory if the government keeps the testing requirement,but lifts the isolation rule because large-scale outbreaks could happen in schools and residential care homes and spread to the community," Leung said.

He said the government should first cancel the testing requirement and raise the vaccination rate for the elderly and children, while the mask order should be eased late March to prevent the spread of influenza.

Tim Pang Hung-cheong, organizer at the Society for Community Organization, agreed the isolation rule should be eased gradually and suggested the designated clinics should be maintained until the local pandemic situation becomes less severe than that of influenza, which is expected to occur around June or July.

Pang said patients at general outpatient clinics might be affected when the isolation rules are lifted.

Therefore, the quotas of general out-patient clinics specializing in Covid and influenza should be increased while simultaneously keeping up with chronically ill patients.